Meditation: A beginners guide – and how CBD oil can help you.
Meditation is a central part of every religion, philosophical tradition, ancient martial art form, shamanic tribe and on, and on, and on.
Because it’s good for you.
Meditation has lots of scientifically proven health benefits, so just for now let’s keep religion out of it, and focus on you instead.
This article will, first of all, try to explain what is happening physiologically in your brain, and in your body, while you meditate. Afterwards you will get a simple instruction in how you can begin harvesting the many health benefits of meditation. CBD oil can help calm your mind, and that is the main obstacle, when you begin learning to meditate. This is a long article, however, it’s just a simplified explanation of meditation, so if you find this interesting, please do research the subject.
You can learn everything about meditation – for free (thank you Internet!). It’s my honest opinion however, that if you just follow the simple steps given further on in this article, and if you cultivate a little patience, you will learn to meditate, and therefore you do not need other techniques, methods, mantras or whatever might be out there. Meditation is an experiential science, so don’t read to much about it. Start experiencing it instead.
I am not a scientist. This article is just my interpretation of what science has to say about various subjects, that I find important to understand the mechanisms of the mind. Actually, this article is mostly based on the experiences I have had during meditation, which I’ve then later tried to understand through said sciences.
Just as a car engine, your brain works on different levels of activity. You can’t really say that the 3rd gear in your car is better or worse than the others. All the gears have their own time and place in the process of moving you from A to B. It’s the same thing with the “gears of the mind”. You need all gears for specific purposes. You can measure the activity levels in the engine of your car in RPM (or Rounds Per Minute), whereas you measure the activity of your brain by the number of brainwaves produced per second. Here is an explanation of the 4 gears:
- Delta stage:
When you are in deep, dreamless sleep, your mind is in what is called the delta stage. The amount of brainwaves per second produced in this stage can go as low as 1. You need to spend time in delta stage every single night, and the reason for this is that your body releases the hormones needed for restitution and recovery. Everything created by nature is here for a reason, and now you know why you can’t survive without proper sleep. Being in the delta stage is crucial for recovery, be that from work, workout, trauma or various illnesses. The night is there for you to recover from the day.
- Theta stage:
In this “gear” your brain activity is higher, but you are still in a calm, relaxed stage where your body recharges. This is still a deep stage of activity, but it is a different stage than delta. In this stage your body neutralizes stress. This is a fact you can experience for yourself, as you can learn to get into this stage with meditation. In other words; you can experience this healing sleep like state, while you are fully awake and 100 % conscious.
- Alpha stage:
The alpha stage is, pretty much, alpha and omega if you want to be healthy. To explain it as simple as possible, your autonomic nervous system has two primary modes of operation. One is fight-or-flight, the one that activates when you are in danger, and you need to either run, or fight for your life. The other one we can call rest-and-digest (or we can call it alpha). The problem with being in fight-or-flight mode is that your body thinks it needs to prepare for… well… fighting! What do you need to fight? You need as much blood, oxygen and energy delivered to your muscles, as fast as possible. What don’t you need in a fight? You don’t need to digest food. This is one reason stressed out people often suffer from poor digestion, constipation and other digestive issues. When the body is in fight-or-flight, blood is diverted away from the digestive organs, towards the muscles.
You need to be in the alpha stage as much as you can. First of all because your body, in alpha, is relaxed, your digestion is on fire (in the most positive way possible), and also because you are more calm and focused, which in the end will help you make better decisions in life. You have heard the saying; “You are what you eat!”, but maybe that old saying should be rephrased to: “You are what you digest!”. Eating healthy is key, but a good digestion is just as important. Spending more time in the alpha stage can improve your health, all on its own. Meditation can make this happen.
As you might have guessed, your brain is the most active when in the beta-stage of operation. This is both good and bad. Remember, we need all of our body’s functions for specific tasks. Remember when you were learning to drive a car? I bet you weren’t just exactly laid back and relaxed. But it was a good thing, because you payed a lot of attention to the road. This would be a way to argue that being in the beta stage is a positive thing. Another situation would be when using a chainsaw, or when performing a heart-transplant surgery. Other than that, I think you should “chill”, preferably in alpha.
I have spend about 10 years of my life suffering from chronic stress (or being in high end of the beta stage), caused by a nerve damage in my neck. It took the doctors 10 years to find the damage, luckily I found meditation in the meantime. Meditation was what initially turned my life around, and it has helped me more than I can describe in an article. Before I knew that I was stressed out to the edge of a breakdown, I thought I was very productive when I ran around doing 50 tasks at a time. Then one day I realized that my focus was never really centered in on anything, and by being “busy”, I actually ended up wasting a lot of time jumping from task to task, or from thought to thought.
Back in high school I had trouble reading my homework because of my busy mind, which was thinking about everything all at once. Last fall, 3 years after I started meditating, I woke up one morning and thought to my self: “Im going to write that book now.” Five days later I had written 300 pages. I could never have done anything like that before I started meditating. I could never have done that in beta stage.
It’s a common misconception that you need to be busy to get things done. You don’t. You need to be calm and focussed. When you are calm and focussed you get things done better, and you mostly do them right the first time. Don’t be busy, be productive.
So how do you meditate?
The cool thing about meditation, is that you can learn how to use it to control your brain’s activity levels. If you have never tried to meditate, the concept might seem confusing. Maybe you have heard about experiences other people have had meditating, but I will recommend that you forget every expectation you have towards meditation.
We are all unique beings, so what you experience in meditation, will most likely not be the same thing as anybody else. I think it is fair to separate the meditation experiences into two categories:
- Physiological experiences: Lowered stress level, better concentration, improved sleep, higher energy levels etc.2. Personal experiences: What ever you need to experience on the personal front, you will experience. You don’t need to worry about this. Just meditate, and all will come. Be patient, and stop asking other people what you might experience. Nobody knows what YOU are supposed to experience. Just experience it for your self.
To harvest the health benefits of meditation is very simple. All it takes is breathing, concentration, and a little bit of time.
As mentioned before, your body has two important modes of operation; fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest. When you breath deeply into your stomach, that movement alone will activate rest-and-digest mode. When you breathe short, shallow breaths, where you only breathe down into your chest, you activate the fight-or-flight mode. This is key to understanding stress. If you feel stressed out, anxious or if you feel your thought are running wild (you are experiencing the high range of the beta-stage); YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO FORCE YOUR BODY AND MIND TO RELAX, and all you have to do is to breathe deeply. This will reactivate rest-and-digest mode.
Meditation is not magic, it is not for the few, and there is nothing mystical about it. Meditation is basic manipulation of your body’s most basic functions. The magic and the mystical is for another article…
No wonder the phrase “take a deep breath” is something you hear a lot, huh? It’s very important.
Newborn babies will naturally breathe deeply. But as we grow older, experience stresses, traumas and so on, we get tense, and our breathing pattern suffers. So all you have to do to get all of the physical health benefits from meditation is to:
- Sit down / lie down / make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes.
- Turn your attention towards your breathing. Feel the sensations in your body as you breathe.
- For 5-10 minutes do controlled deep breathing. Try to imagine that the air you breathe in goes all the way down behind your belly button as you inhale, and that when you exhale, it slowly leaves your body the way it came.
- When your breathing has become relaxed, and when it automatically goes deep down behind your belly button, you can stop controlling your breath, and instead turn your awareness towards the simple, pleasurable sensation of breathing. If you experience that your breathing becomes shallow again when you loose attention; it’s perfectly fine. Just keep controlling your breath, and eventually your body will learn to breath in the optimal way.
In the beginning try to meditate for 5-10 minutes, and then work your way up. Don’t force yourself to meditate. Never. You mind has to learn to focus on your breath, so when you feel comfortable just “looking” at your deep breathing for 10 minutes, amp it up. Some say you should meditate 20 minutes every day, some say you should meditate 20 minutes three times every day. I think you should meditate just as much as you feel like. The important thing is to cultivate a sense of wanting to meditate.
That’s it. There is nothing more to it, and I hope you’re not disappointed because you were hoping for spiritual enlightenment and such. As said, let’s keep the physiological and the personal experiences apart. If you get distracted by thoughts, be that any thought, do not get frustrated because someone told you meditation is about clearing your mind. It is, but it takes time to learn, and you will still get the same health benefits, even if you catch yourself thinking 108 different things during your meditation. Your mind is supposed to think. It’s what separates you from the monkey, so don’t be frustrated about your gift. Each and every time you catch yourself thinking, instead of focussing on your breathing – just gently shift your attention towards your breathing, and then once again you are, second for second, breath for breath, lowering your brain’s activity levels towards the healthy alpha-stage, and eventually the theta-stage.
“You do not need to take courses in meditation, or to read any books on the subject. They will all tell you the same thing. Breathe deeply, focus your attention on your breath, and when thinking, shift your attention back towards the breath. Don’t think about how your breath feels. Feel how your breath feels.”
How does your breath feel? Wonderful? Restricted? Hurried? Relaxed?
If you keep turning your attention back to your breathing, and if you keep breathing deeply – you can’t help but meditate eventually. The synergistic mechanisms in your respiratory systems and your nervous systems are built for meditation. It is the most natural thing for your body to do. And thanks to science, there is nothing your ego can say to disapprove this point. So don’t worry. You can learn to meditate. You are pretty much born to do it.
How will you know when you meditate? Physiologically speaking, when you begin to feel light and relaxed in your body, you are entering alpha. The deeper you go, the better you will feel. Enjoy every breath of it. But don’t get attached to this. Focus on the breathing.
There are a few obstacles, some of which I struggled a lot with when beginning to meditate, and here are my recommendations on how to overcome them:
- I try to stop thinking, but then I catch my self thinking, and I get frustrated.I understand this situation very well. This kept me from experiencing the calming effect of meditation for a very long time. I had a hard time concentrating, so I would constantly catch my self either thinking about work, food, family or other stuff. The thing is that thinking demands brain activity. Thinking about thinking also does. Therefore the solution is:
Whenever distracted, gently shift your attention back towards your breathing. Make sure you breathe deeply. Notice how it feels when the cool air enters your nostrils, and passes down through your throat, and further down. Notice the physical sensations you feel when the air leaves your body again. You see; your mind WANTS to focus on something. So if you forget to focus on your breathing, the mind will just start thinking about shopping, news, love, and whatever. If you just learn to turn your focus towards your breath – thoughtlessness, and therefore lowered brain activity must, and will happen.
- I can meditate for a while, but I always end up falling asleep!One of my friends spoke with me on this exact subject last night, and I said: “Great! Keep falling asleep then!”.Remember, deep sleep is very important for restitution and recovery. My friend is a very busy guy, so he doesn’t sleep enough, and therefore he does not get the rest he needs. So if you also are experiencing this, it’s simply because your body finally gets the long awaited opportunity to relax. Keep meditating, and keep falling asleep. Eventually you will have caught up on all the rest your body is lacking, and then you will no longer fall asleep.“Whatever needs to happen, during meditation, it will.”
- I can’t sit comfortably enough to meditate. My neck/shoulder/back/whatever hurts!As I have mentioned In some of the previous articles, I used to be in very, very bad shape. A horrible diet combined with poor exercise, and way to much time in front of the computer has caused me to have bad posture. I have been working on improving my posture with yoga for years, and it is only recently I have come to a point where I can comfortably sit up straight and meditate.The solution: Lie down, or use all the pillows to support you that you want/need. Whatever it takes to make you comfortable, please do make yourself comfortable. The important thing is to keep your spine as straight as possible. If you have to lie down to do this, do it. If you have some kind of injury, or just plain old bad posture, I recommend that you start working on this so that you in time can learn to sit up straight.I have no other arguments for this, than the fact that most books and traditions emphasizes this. But the deepest meditations I have had, so far, have been while lying down. So don’t worry if you have to do this. It’s perfectly fine.
- I can’t stop thinking – not even for a second!In my opinion, this would be an indication of two things:
- You spend way to much time being in the beta-stage.
B. You need to rest.
(Or C. You drink too much coffee. Coffee contain caffeine which activates your adrenals, the end result being the release of stress hormones. When you have a cop of coffee, think of it as drinking a small amount of pure stress/anxiety. The more coffee you drink the higher your mind will be, in the beta stage. Not good.)I used to have a hard time falling asleep in my teenage years. I simply could not stop thinking. And what worse was, I felt that a lot of the things I was thinking about made no sense, as to why I kept thinking about them. It could be experiences from years back, something someone said, and basically all kinds of different thoughts. It made no sense, so it made me frustrated.The solution: Think it through. Ask yourself why you are thinking what you are thinking. Ask yourself what you can learn from what you are thinking.I believe that when a thought keeps coming back to you, it is your subconscious mind trying to force you to process an experience from your past. Maybe you did something that you aren’t proud of, and maybe you haven’t realized that you are not proud of it (maybe you are still doing the thing you aren’t proud of?). Maybe you said something to someone you should not have said. Or maybe you let someone do or say something to you, that you should have reacted upon, but for some reason you did not. Maybe a thought arises and you start to feel anger, or shame, or whatever feeling you might feel. Maybe you find your self daydreaming about travel and such. Maybe you do so for a reason?
The normal thing to do is to say: “Well, it’s just thoughts. Nothing to do but forget about them”. I don’t think you will ever forget about them. I think the thoughts which arise in our conscious mind, are there for a reason. Nowhere else in nature you will find things happening coincidentally, so why would your thoughts be a coincidence, and therefore different from the rest of nature?
I have not experienced not being able to stop thinking for many, many years. But after spending years of my life being too stressed to understand my own thoughts, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking them through. I learned a lot. I did not use CBD oil, because it was not accessible back then (and I didn’t know about it). I did not use CBD oil to learn to meditate either, and it’s important for me to say, that it is not necessary to use CBD oil to meditate or in the learning process. It will make you more calm however, and especially if you have a hard time calming your mind CBD oil might be good for you. CBD oil will make you more calm, and when you are calm, your thoughts seems to make more sense, and it will be easier to process them.
The only thing I changed, was to stop fleeing from my thoughts, and instead I tried to figure out what I was supposed to learn from them. Thoughts that all came from memories, arguments, experiences, traumas and what not. And through this process I have gotten to know my self much better.
You should never ignore your thoughts. The mind is way more complex than science can ever fathom – which is why science in the year of 2015 still can’t tell us anything useful about consciousness. You cannot measure what you do not understand.
The consciousness is the last undiscovered continent in the world of scientific exploration. We learned everything there is to know about the human genome, only to find that the information is pretty much useless (Do a google or youtube search on: Epigenetics). You don’t have to wait for scientists to research the human mind. You can do it yourself, at the comfort of your home. You will get to know yourself better in the process, improve your health and be more happy zyban weight loss. It’s a powerful ancient practice. It’s absolutely free and it’s called meditation.
I wish you the best on the wonderful journey, into the beautiful mind. Breathe.